Healthy Sleep Hygiene
Getting enough sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being, as it helps balance our hormones and mood, reset our energy levels, process memories and consolidate information, and even allows us to better recover from exercise. Not getting enough sleep can affect your immune system, your mental health and heart health, your memory and can also increase your risk for anxiety and depression.
And yet, many of us are not giving our sleep hygiene nearly enough attention. In fact, data from Sleep Cycle has shown that no country in the world currently achieves the recommended 8 hours of sleep regularly. So what is sleep hygiene? It is all about the habits you implement in order to foster a good night’s sleep. Poor sleep habits- like staying up too late or getting up too early, overstimulating with caffeine, the blue-light emitted from devices or even those late-night tv binges are all linked to poor sleep hygiene, not to mention are a common cause of sleep disorders like insomnia.
When it comes down to it, your sleep hygiene is important to enable your body to repair and reset itself to be ready for another day and the average adult should aim for 7-9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. With that in mind, here are 8 wellness tips to improve your sleep hygiene and get better quality sleep tonight!
8 Tips for Better Sleep Hygiene
1. Follow a Sleep Schedule:
Set yourself up for success by following a sleep schedule. This means trying to go to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day, even on weekends. Doing so will help train your body to know that it’s time to rest, so you can get to sleep easier.
2. Create an Ideal Sleep Environment:
The details of your ideal sleep environment might differ slightly from others, but in general you’ll want to keep your bedroom cool, comfortable, quiet and dark.
3. Limit your use of Electronic Devices for at Least 1 Hour Before Bedtime
The blue light emitted from our cell phones actually sends signals to our brains that it's still daytime, making it harder for us to shut off when it is time to sleep.
4. Give Yourself 30-60 minutes Before Bed to Relax and Unwind:
Try writing in a journal, taking down some notes for your next day’s to-do list, taking a warm bath, listening to music, or anything that will help you quiet your mind and thoughts for when it's time to close your eyes.
5. A Snack Before Bedtime is OK:
You may have heard that you need to cut off all eating a few hours before bedtime. But this isn’t a one size fits all solution. Some actually benefit from having a bit of food in our stomach to help fall asleep and stay asleep. The keyword is small- as eating a heavy meal right before bedtime makes your digestive system work overtime and can actually hinder your sleep process.
6. Go Easy on the Alcohol:
It may seem to help you fall asleep faster, but unfortunately alcohol doesn’t help you sleep better, as it can lead to nightsweats, tossing and turning and even nightmares. Alcohol affects the production of sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and can block REM sleep (the deep, most restorative type of sleep). Try cutting off alcohol around 4 hours before bedtime and spacing out drinks with glasses of water.
7. Try a Guided Sleep Meditation:
Guided Meditations help us to let go of the stresses and anxieties of our day by listening to recordings that smoothly guide us through a meditation journey. They allow us to relax our bodies, calm our minds, and drift off into sleep. Sleep meditations help create the conditions necessary for quality, restful sleep.
8. Steer Clear of Caffeine:
It might seem obvious to watch your caffeine intake if you’re trying to get to sleep, but many of us fail to realize exactly how far in advance we should curb the caffeine and the many hidden sources of it. That evening cup of green tea might be the culprit, or even some over-the-counter medications. For a better night’s sleep, try cutting out any caffeine by 3 pm and read all medication labels carefully.
Getting enough quality sleep each night allows our body’s to reset themselves both physically and emotionally so that we can be ready for a new day ahead. Maximize your productivity, concentration, communication and focus and soak up a myriad of other brain-boosting benefits, by simply getting enough quality sleep each night. Refer back to the list above whenever you need to check in on your sleep hygiene! What are you doing to promote better sleep tonight?